What do you think of when you hear the word "eternity"? Forever? For all time? Everlasting? Immortality? Yes, in fact, these are all synonyms for the beautiful word, eternity. In this way, an eternity ring almost immediately gives one a positive feeling that encompasses love and meaningfulness.

But for those who're still somewhat stumped as to what an eternity ring actually is, here's our comprehensive guide that'll answer all of your questions, including that of "what is an eternity ring?", the history of it, how to wear it, and more.

What is an Eternity Ring?

An eternity ring is a piece of jewellery that has no beginning and no end… hence the name "eternity". It's usually a metal ring made of gold, white gold, or platinum, and is oftentimes decorated with diamonds or gemstones.

Traditionally, a diamond eternity ring was given to one's partner on their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Then, it became more common for this kind of ring to be the gifted on a tenth wedding anniversary. Today, however, it is deemed a beautiful gift when celebrating a first wedding anniversary or another big milestone in one's marriage.

There are two kinds of eternity rings: a full eternity, which is when the stones cover the entire surface of the ring, and a half eternity, which is when the stones are only partially found around the ring.

A pro of choosing a full eternity ring is the fact that the piece of jewellery can spin around freely and still display a lovely band of stones. It also adds that extra touch of luxury and sparkle. A half eternity ring too has its pros, and is merely a question of comfortableness, budget, and style.

An eternity ring is essentially not an engagement ring nor a wedding ring, but a complimentary ring given to one after marriage. In this way, it is an additional piece of jewellery to be reminded of and to celebrate two people in marriage. It's a reminder of the past and a symbol of a prosperous future together.

Yet, just as things continue to change, there are many couples who have used an eternity ring as their wedding ring. This ring is then given to their bride at the altar. It is sometimes worn on the same finger along with one's engagement and wedding ring, but some opt to split them across the ring fingers on both hands. Find more information on wedding rings in our article "15 Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Ring".

In short, an eternity ring is as the name suggests, a piece of jewellery that is seen as the ultimate symbol of everlasting love.

female hand with eternity ring

The History of the Eternity Ring

This lovely tradition goes back to the ancient Egyptian times, around 2000 B.C. It was seen as a way in which to symbolise eternity, with the hole in the middle being a passage into the future.

The Egyptians also gifted loved ones with a ring portraying a snake swallowing its own tail, another common symbol of eternity.

While the very first eternity rings were either made of metal or reed, the diamond eternity ring was introduced in the 1960's by the famous diamond cooperation, De Beers.

It was brought about as a means to sell smaller diamonds for already-married and older women, and their advertisement provided a catchy slogan of, "She married you for richer or poorer. Let her know how it's going," in order to market this kind of jewellery.

Who Receives an Eternity Ring?

Most commonly, an eternity ring is worn by women, and is gifted to them from their significant other on a special anniversary. Of late, however, many men are embracing the eternity ring, including that of celebrities such as David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Johnny Depp, who have all worn diamond eternity rings as a symbol of marriage or fashion.

Additionally, an eternity ring is oftentimes gifted when celebrating the birth of a new child, and in this way it is not a direct celebration of marriage itself, but the journey and growth together.

Celebrities and Eternity Rings

While many people today believe that bigger equals better, it was not always so. In fact, Hollywood icon, Audrey Hepburn, was a big fan of the eternity ring, and wore it in an understated yet beautiful fashion.

She was proposed to by Mel Ferrer in 1954 with an eternity ring, a slim platinum band with baguette-cut diamonds. She then received two wedding rings, one gold and one pink gold, on her wedding day, both engraved with the date of the wedding.

Marilyn Monroe was also a well-known icon who fancied the notion of the eternity ring. She in fact wore an eternity ring which acted as her engagement and wedding ring when she married baseball player, Joe DiMaggio. Her eternity ring was too a platinum ring and had 36 baguette-cut diamonds.

Fun fact: when auctioned off in 1999, Marilyn Monroe's eternity ring was sold for $772,500 (fifteen times the initial price).

Additionally, Elizabeth Taylor was given two eternity rings by her husband, Richard Burton (they married twice). The pair of extravagant rings were later sold as part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor in 2011 for $1,022,500.

Last but not least, you may or may not know that the popular fragrance from Calvin Klein entitled, Eternity, was actually inspired by the eternity ring, and became one of the designer's most successful perfumes.

What is the Difference Between an Eternity Ring and an Engagement or Wedding Ring?

Traditionally speaking, it is the fact that an eternity ring has diamonds or gems covering the entirety of the ring that makes it different to an engagement or wedding ring. This kind of full eternity ring is seen as the most luxurious in the jewellery world.

Today, however, half eternity rings are rising in popularity.

What is the Difference Between an Eternity Ring and a Promise Ring?

While both an eternity ring and a promise ring both symbolise eternity, there are some noticeable differences between the two.

An eternity ring is a piece of jewellery given on a special occasion or as a gift to celebrate a relationship milestone. This ring oftentimes has a similar appearance to that of a wedding ring, and is a sign of romance and intimacy between two partners.

A promise ring can be given to another as a promise of commitment and oftentimes, love, but can also be a gift given to someone in a non-romantic fashion. For example, it can be a symbol of friendship, dedication, or even hold important religious significance. This ring varies in design, depending on personal taste and preference.

Different Metal Types for an Eternity Ring

Another way in which to have your perfect eternity ring is to choose your favourite metal. Three of the most popular choices are:

Platinum

This kind of metal is luxurious and the rarest metal on earth. By choosing platinum for your eternity ring, you'll have a beautiful piece of jewellery that shines with brilliance and sophistication. What's also great about platinum is that it's durable and dense, making it a great choice for everyday wear, and it is kind on sensitive skin.

White Gold

This is a more affordable type of metal and has been a big hit for jewellery-enthusiasts since the 1920's. To create white gold, yellow gold is alloyed with silver or palladium and rhodium-plated, which will then create a white gold appearance. This kind of metal looks effortlessly beautiful among colourful gemstones and diamonds.

Yellow Gold

Yellow gold is a more traditional option which creates a warm backdrop for diamonds. With an 18-carat yellow gold eternity ring, you'll have a tarnish-resistant and durable piece of jewellery on a kind budget.

Different Kinds of Eternity Ring Designs

When it comes to a special eternity ring, you have the ability to choose an array of different designs. If you're interested in a half eternity ring, you could decorate it with less stones that are larger in size. Or you could choose a full eternity ring that is decorated beautifully and encircles the entire circumference of the ring.

Diamond Eternity Rings

The most traditional eternity ring design is that which is decorated with diamonds. This is because it's seen as one of the most romantic symbols of love and because it's a rare and precious stone that is unique.

If you decide to choose diamonds for your eternity ring, the most popular shape is the round brilliant diamond. This classical choice has an excellent way of sparkling sensationally when receiving the maximum amount of light.

Alternatively, a princess cut diamond - which is a square shape - is a popular choice as the diamonds can be arranged closely together. In this way, your eternity ring can resemble an almost seamless circle of gorgeous diamonds across the finger.

You could also consider baguette diamonds which will create extra texture. In fact, many choose to alternate baguette diamonds with either princess cut or round brilliant diamonds, which gives it a more vintage appearance.

Gemstone Eternity Rings

Choosing a gemstone instead of a diamond is sometimes preferred by those who absolutely adore a certain type of gemstone. For some, a coloured stone is the perfect way in which to add character and uniqueness to an eternity ring, especially if that stone is one of their favourites.

How do You Wear an Eternity Ring?

While there isn't any formal rule that says how one should wear an eternity ring, many recommend that it should be the last ring on the ring finger.

Traditionally, the wedding ring is worn first, as it is closest to the heart. Following that, the engagement ring which then protects the wedding ring from coming off. Lastly, the eternity ring is placed as the third and last ring on the ring finger (the finger next to the pinkie finger on the left side).

Then again, and as mentioned, many a couple are opting simply for an eternity ring as opposed to an engagement and wedding ring, so it really is up to the giver and receiver to decide where they would like to wear their eternity ring.

It's also a question of practicality and preference, as an eternity ring is worn every day.

With that, we hope that we've helped you find the perfect kind of eternity ring that suits your style and desire. One that's not only beautiful but also unique in order to celebrate the special love that you and your partner share.